New research altering concussion prevention, treatment - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

New research altering concussion prevention, treatment

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

With football season in full swing, it also means the injuries that follow.

Semmes-Murphey physicians are seeing at least three, if not more, young athletes in their office every week with concussions.

A new study by the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council shows concussions are more frequent in high school athletes than college and professional athletes.

MORE: 300K sports-related concussions occur annually

Dr. Brandon Baughman, Neuropsychologist with Semmes-Murphey said doctors are still gathering information about young athletes and concussions, but just the past few years of researching revealed new information that is changing how concussions are diagnosed and treated.

One new fact opposes previous thoughts that a concussion meant that an athlete became unconscious after an impact.

"You don't need to have a loss of consciousness to be diagnosed with a concussion. Having ‘your bell rung,' as it used to be described, that's a concussion," said Baughman about the new information, "What's key is you have to have a mechanism for having some type of force hit the brain, and in contact sports that can be a helmet-to-helmet hit in a football player, that can be a lacrosse stick hitting you in the back of the head."

He added that while parents buy the "latest and greatest" helmets that tout preventing concussions, there is no scientific data to back that up. Baughman said helmets can prevent, however, skull-fractures which are also common in high-impact sports like football and lacrosse.

While concussions once had a classification system, Baughman said that they are now treated on an individual basis because certain factors can complicate each situation. Not every patient recovers after one or two weeks.

"For example, if someone has a longer period of unconsciousness after a concussion or if they have a longer period of what we call ‘post-traumatic amnesia' where the brain is just not able to lay down memories as effectively as it could or should, that tends to be associated with prolonged recovery periods," said Baughman.

As more new research is gathered about concussions in young athletes, Baughman said the way techniques are practiced will change.

"People have started to discussion changing the way we practice in some sports, eliminating tackling from football games. Now, a lot of coaches don't want that to happen because how do you teach the fundamentals. But there are certain high risk activities that if you reduce how frequent those would be engaged in on the field, you're going to reduce some concussions."

For more about the signs and symptoms of concussions, visit Le Bonheur Children Hospital's parenting blog.

Baughman added that if a young athlete is hit in the head during a sport and shows signs of a concussion, call a physician instead of immediately heading to the emergency room. To make an appointment with Semmes-Murphey's clinic for concussions, call 901-522-7700.

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